(Wendy Scott. APTN/File photo)
APTN National News
An Alberta judge ruled Thursday to continue a ban on the public release of video excerpts played in open court depicting the police interrogation of an intellectually challenged woman whose murder conviction was quashed earlier this month.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Beth Hughes extended an interim ban on the release of portions of Wendy Scott’s police interrogation video which were played in court during the jury trial of her co-accused Connie Oakes.
The Alberta Court of Appeal earlier this month struck Scott’s guilty plea, quashed her conviction on second-degree murder and order a new trial.
Scott and Oakes were convicted in the May 2011 murder of Medicine Hat, Alta., resident Casey Armstrong who was found dead in his bathtub with a knife wound through his neck.
In the absence of a murder weapon, DNA or fingerprint evidence, the Crown relied exclusively on Scott’s guilty plea and testimony to build the murder case against Oakes.
Oakes was found guilty of the murder by a jury and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years.
Oakes, who maintains her innocence, is also appealing her conviction and a Court of Appeal hearing date is set for next month.
Portions of Scott’s police interrogation were played during Oakes’ trial, which was handled by Hughes.
Hughes has prevented APTN from airing portions of Scott’s police interrogation played during the trial for over a year.
On Thursday, during a hearing in Calgary, Hughes extended the interim ban on the videos ruling that their public release could impact Scott’s upcoming new trial. After a 20 minute hearing, Hughes extended the ban until a scheduled Dec. 2 hearing on the issue.
Hughes originally ruled in September that the video portions could be released at the conclusion of Scott’s appeal, which ended Oct. 15 when the Court of Appeal ordered the new trial.
APTN, however, could not immediately publish the videos because Crown prosecutor Brian Graff, who is handling Scott’s and Oakes’ appeals, insisted it be Medicine Hat police that copy the portions played during the trial onto a DVD.
The DVD was couriered to Graff this week. The delay allowed Scott’s legal aid-appointed lawyer Maureen McConaghy time to file for an emergency hearing to extend the ban.
McConaghy argues the release of the videos would prejudice Scott’s right to a fair trial.
According to transcripts from Oakes’ trial, the videos depict Scott claiming a woman named “Ginger” was involved in the murder. The videos also show Scott claiming she had an alibi the May 2011 long-weekend when Armstrong was murdered, according to the transcripts.
While Alberta Legal Aid has agreed to pay a lawyer to represent Scott on APTN’s ongoing court battle to release the video, it refused to pay for Scott’s successful appeal arguing it had no merit.
APTN is not only seeking the video portions played in court, but Scott’s full interrogation videos which were filed as exhibits for identification during Oakes’ trial.